People who are just starting the process of adopting often ask me for my best advice. Here are my top three tips for people who want to adopt a child.
#1: Finish your home study.
You won’t be in charge of very many parts of the adoption process. The speed at which you finish your part of the home study is something you can choose. It’s the first step to adopting, and I strongly suggest you do it as soon as you know you want to.
From what I’ve seen, some people wait because they’re afraid their home study will only be good for a limited time. In California, where this is true, your home study is good for 2 years. But, if you haven’t been placed within that time, you just need to have your home study updated. It’s not like you have to start from scratch; it’s a pretty simple process. If you are serious about adopting, the benefits of doing your home study now far outweigh the chance that it will be out of date by the time you bring a child home.
I also think that having your home study done shows expectant parents who are looking at your profile that you are serious about this. You’ve filled out the paperwork, taken classes on adoption, and met with a social worker more than once. You’re ready to adopt. A licensed adoption agency has confirmed and given you permission to be a parent. This sounds better than saying, “Yeah, we’ll get to that someday…”
#2: Tell everyone you know that you want to adopt a child.
You never know how you might meet a pregnant woman, so I always tell people who are interested in adopting to tell anyone who will listen. You’d be surprised at how many people find pregnant women in their own networks. When I say this, people really doubt me, but it’s true. Usually, it goes something like this: “The granddaughter of my friend’s cousin’s hairdresser’s client’s client is pregnant and thinking about putting the baby up for adoption. They put us in touch with her because she knew we wanted to adopt a baby. I’m slightly exaggerating, but your network connects you to so many people that it would surprise you.
Even if you are working with an agency, a facilitator, or a consultant, it doesn’t hurt to talk about your plans for adoption. Social media is a great and easy way to get the word out to people in your community. A post about you and your plans to adopt can be easily shared and forwarded, which makes it more likely that you will meet a pregnant woman who is thinking about adoption. Even if you don’t feel comfortable sharing on social media (I didn’t either), tell as many people as you can and feel comfortable with. The more people who know, the more likely it is that you will meet a pregnant woman looking for a family to adopt her baby.
*As a side note, if you are self-matching, which means you are connecting with an expectant mother outside of an agency, I highly recommend getting a lawyer and social worker involved as soon as possible in the process. This will make sure that the expectant mother gets all the support, resources, education, counseling, etc. she needs, which will make the adoption go as smoothly as possible for everyone involved.
#3: This one is just for you: What would you do right now if I told you next month you were going to have a baby? Ok, just do that!
Both times I was adopted, we didn’t have much time to prepare before the baby came home. We were matched with my daughter after she was born, and we were matched with my son a few weeks before his birth mom was due. Everything will change when the baby comes (AMAZING, but different). Do the things now that you probably won’t do when you have a baby. This is true whether you are about to have your first child or your second. So, what would you do RIGHT NOW if you KNEW you were going to have a baby? Then that is what you should do!
Is it going on one last trip? Almost done with the bathroom renovation? Want to go out to dinner without a babysitter?
Obviously, you need to watch your budget, especially if you’ve been raising money for the adoption, but I’m sure there’s something you can do now that you’ll be glad you did before the baby comes. Even if you only want to sleep in! I’m sorry, but I can’t say this enough: sleep while you can. I miss sleep so much, and now that I have two young kids, I don’t regret a single day that I slept in. Not one!
I hope these tips help you on your way to becoming a parent. As always, I hope the best for you.